Commissioners: New landfill customers should pay same fee

Published 11:32 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

Decatur County’s commissioners seem to agree that any outside municipalities that use the county’s landfill should pay the same rate that is charged to local citizens.
Currently, county representatives are in discussions with the City of Tallahassee, Fla., and Leon County, Fla., to possibly begin accepting those municipalities’ waste at the Decatur County Solid Waste Facility, located on U.S. Highway 27 South in the southern-most part of the county.

County Administrator Gary Breedlove said that adding those municipalities’ waste to the current landfill would cut its lifespan from 30 years to 12-13 years. However, the county also owns land that can be used to expand the existing landfill and increase its lifespan to 40 years or more — even with the additional volume from outside municipalities.

Breedlove has also previously said that taking the Florida municipalities’ garbage could result in additional annual revenues of $3.75 million to $5 million.

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At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, Decatur County citizen Benny Hayes asked each commissioner if he would require any outside municipality to pay the same $24.50-per-ton rate that citizens and the City of Bainbridge pay.

“I don’t feel it is proper to charge an outside entity less than what the City of Bainbridge is charged, or what the citizens are charged,” said Hayes, who addressed the board during public participation. “That’s why I’d like to poll the commissioners. Would you agree to charge a lesser fee to an outside entity?”

All commissioners were present at the meeting, except for Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry.
“I would not,” Commissioner Oliver Sellers said, in response to Hayes’ question.

“If and when we do negotiate and agree to take other counties’ garbage, [I would like to see] that the citizens of Decatur County, and the City of Bainbridge, will be charged the same rate as we charge someone else,” Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely said.

Mosely also added that the county had recently completed an analysis to determine the expense required to process a ton of garbage, and would use that data in determining the best rate for accepting waste. He also noted that he would hope some money would be put aside for future expenses associated with closing the landfill sections once they are full.
County Chairman Charles T. Stafford said he agreed with Mosely.

“I am interested in the best rates that we can obtain on behalf of the county, first,” he said.

Commissioners Frank Loeffler and Russell Smith also gave their responses to Hayes’ question.
“Now that we do have a breakdown of what it costs us per ton, it allows us to sit down with, whether it be Tallahassee, or Leon County, or a county elsewhere, now that we know our margins,” Loeffler said. “We should be able to sit and accurately come up with a figure that would be beneficial to Decatur County.”

“If [the landfill] can make some serious money for the county, I believe in trying to go out and get it,” Smith said. “I believe that whatever we negotiate, that we should charge the same thing for the city, and our citizens, that we charge outside.

“If we can’t make some serious money, I don’t want to do it. But if we can make some serious money, that takes a lot of the burden off the taxpayers.”

Breedlove said later in the meeting that negotiations were still pending with the City of Tallahassee and Leon County, and there was no need to rush those discussions.

“As soon as those trucks start rolling in — if they do — then the local rate would be commensurate with the contracted rate of anybody from the outside,” he said.